Two realities surround teledentistry today. One, how it’s accurately defined. And two, how it’s evolving. Each reality forms the bigger picture regarding the question: what is the future of teledentistry?
As leaders in teledentistry and telehealth technology our long-haul commitment includes clarifying some common misconceptions. Alongside that is planting seeds of opportunity about teledentistry’s future.
We’re all about stimulating the creative uses of a dedicated teledentistry platform for facilitating dental care.
Simplifying the definition of teledentistry
Essentially, teledentistry is defined as…
”The use of telecommunications tools to facilitate the delivery of dental care.”
And there are two specific and unique ways care delivery is facilitated when using it.
- 1-Sychronous teledentistry: is a real-time consultation with a patient using dedicated, secure technology. That technology could be adapted to phone, chat, smartphone/device, or computer.
- 2-Asynchronous teledentistry: is providing stored information relevant to a patient’s question(s) or oral health condition. Patients can securely search an available education database, request delivery of relevant information via email, view images, orcorrespond around provided information.
Who can use teledentistry?
Virtual interactions via dedicated technology essentially expands the patient territory to providers. Patients can securely and safely access the expertise of a team of oral healthcare professionals, specialists, and medical professionals.
A more specific provider community would include:
- Care givers
- Other healthcare staff and professionals
- Office personnel
Teledentistry allows an opportunity for patients to communicate and consult with their chosen professional. And those same professionals can collaborate via teledentistry to arrive at the most precise and effective care for the patient.
How to use teledentistry?
There are foundational “take-aways” once you understand the core uses of teledentistry. Again, our ongoing goal is to prompt you to think of creative uses of the platform.
But first, keep in mind…
”Teledentistry isn’t simply video streaming, nor is it just a tool to supplement remote delivery of care.”
Take-away 1: Teledentistry is a new communication portal
Patient communication drives their treatment decisions and subsequently your production. The better and more in-tune your communication channels the better your patient experience. Good communication is also an essential part of your interactions with colleagues and specialists around patient care.
Patient engagement in this era (and beyond) will require you to extend care beyond brick-and-mortar facilities. The concept of a virtual dental home adds an additional (and necessary) layer to patient interaction.
Think of a virtual dental home as a mobile or remote care delivery system. The virtual aspect will be further supported by a commitment to teledentistry.
And by commitment we mean one that’s far more than a “cobbled together” video feed between you and a patient or colleague.
In fact, the bigger picture of communication built on a teledentistry platform would include:
- Patient engagement
- Care continuity
- Educational resources
- Case presentation
- Record sharing
- Collaborative relationships
- Patient-flow management
- Integration of medical and dental care
Each era of the teledentistry evolution has improved its usage and adoption by industry professionals. And we’re not done yet!
The teledentistry evolution includes a few phases of consideration.
Low usage - providing no incentive for new/emerging technology
- Ineffective use of available applications
- No scalability
- Technology “work-arounds” required
- Low or no patient engagement
Anticipated usage - increased entrepreneurial interest in new technology
- Dedicated teledentistry platform
- Scalable and efficient design
- Expanded capabilities around emerging commercial opportunities
Increased demand - increased functionality
- Easier workflow management
- Improved patient-facing, provider, and colleague functionality
- Greater interoperability
Teledentistry evolves when you use it and using it increases patient buy-in. It works when you think of it as patient care evolution rather than a occasional use patient care solution.
Take-away 2: Teledentistry specific technology is designed to help assure successful usage
Each teledentistry application or protocol relies on a dedicated platform. Attempting to “patch” together existing or non-specific technology will hinder your desired results.
And frankly, doing so will likely lead you to diminish teledentistry’s benefits for virtual patient communication.
Synchronous and asynchronous teledentistry via a dedicated platform and specific technology expands your patient care potential. Basic and practical capabilities can include:
- Orthodontic consults
- Post-op/procedure follow-up
- Patient flow management
- Emergency triage
- Case presentation
What is the future of teledentistry?
A report published by McKinsey and Co. projects that general telehealth services in the US will approach $250 billion in 2021. That’s a projection increase from the current $3 billion.
The 830% rise will likely encompass medical sub-specialities such as dentistry, optometry, podiatry and more. Patients are migrating to convenience and more comfortable access to their providers.
Cautious perspective is also part of the McKinsey report. They reveal three current barriers that must be overcome to achieve the projected growth results in teledentistry and other telehealth services.
Simply put…”it must be more than a Zoom-like video conference!”
With that perspective in mind growth barriers to overcome include:
- Perceived value to your patients
- Perceived value to you as the provider
- Perceived value of necessary technology
Teledentistry and telehealth specific companies are on-top-of these challenges. And their innovations are driving the future of teledentistry.
Telehealth and teledentistry services provide improved patient participation/ownership in their care
- Increased communication opportunities
- Increased convenience within care continuity
- Increased access to provider collaboration records
Telehealth specific technology will be integrated more seamlessly into the daily workflows of providers
- Exceeding face-to-face video conferencing
- Improving team communication
- Providing automated patient/care monitoring and related communication
Overall, telehealth technology delivers greater and more effective information sharing with patients and among providers.
Take advantage of a solution aligned with the future of teledentistry
The overall solutions within a dedicated teledentistry platform enable you to fully maximize your virtual patient interactions…leading to better patient care! And that’s a trend that will remain for years to come.
Access the following resource for more in-depth insights into how teledentistry is evolving as a patient-care solution:
Teledentix is an innovative, turn-key teledentistry solution created by Virtual Dental Care. The all-in-one platform will enable you to adapt teledentistry to your patient care and extend your services beyond the walls of your dental practice…and improve your patient care in the process.
Contact us about Teledentix and discover how it streamlines the interaction between you and your patient around their dental care.